ALBANY -- It's here already.
Set your watches and clocks to 8:30 p.m. Monday. That's when Monroe and Westover will meet for the first time this season.
That's right, the Tornadoes and Patriots meet already to start what could be one of the best series of games anywhere in Georgia. They will meet twice in the Region 1-AAA race, and probably in the Region 1-AAA tournament at the end of the regular season -- and they might even face each other in the playoffs.
But now there's a bonus game, thanks to a pair of first-round lopsided wins in the U save It Boys Basketball Tournament. Westover won the first game of the tournament, and Monroe kept the date with a 68-41 romp against Mitchell County on Saturday night at Albany High, where the two rivals will now meet in the semis at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
"I didn't expect to be playing them this early, but it's here,'' said Monroe coach Marquis Davis of facing Westover. "They will be ready, and we'll be ready. It's great for the fans. In the past the teams (in Albany) playing each other have been a big part of this tournament. It's what makes this tournament great.''
Monroe, The Herald's No. 1 ranked team, had an easy time improving to 5-0. The Tornadoes jumped out to a 13-2 lead and never looked back against Mitchell (4-2), which lost for the second night in a row. The Eagles were the first team to score more than 40 points on Monroe this season, but Monroe was happy to see its offense take off.
"I think we played real well,'' Davis said. "We've been stressing to get our points up, and I thought we did a real good job of sharing the ball. That's what we've been talking about. We've been holding teams (in the 30s), but we have to get our offense going.''
The Nadas did that and more. Nicholas Plummer scored 16 points and Herald Super 6ers Rantavious Gilbert and Jabari McGhee scored 13 each. Bamba Dioum added 12.
Mitchell was led by DiQuan Isom, who scored 17.